Before I started playing the guitar, I used to watch my cousin play and marvel at the magic she was able to make with her hands and this beautiful musical instrument.
“How did you learn to do that?” was the question I always had until I learned it with her help and persistence. Now I’m here to answer that question for you. How can you learn to play your first song on the guitar?
I know the feeling you get after learning a few chords. You just want to play your favorite song. And then you’ll want to impress your friends with some of their favorite songs and even play while they sing along.
Well, learning to play a song on the guitar is easy. Yeah, I know, that sounds like what every tutor says, “It’s very simple, and anyone can do it.” But with all that, it still seems so hard to play a straightforward song.
Just like all other skills, the most important thing is practice. Start with a simple song and work your way through it. You’ll notice that there is a lot of repetition, but that’s just how most songs are. The process is simple, and the most important things when learning your first song are practice and consistency.
The final important thing you’ll need is a can-do attitude.
If you follow my instructions, you’ll be playing in no time. Now put a smile on your face, and let’s play that song.
Pick a Song and Divide It Into Parts
Some songs are easier than others. I’m sure you’ve figured that out already.
You need to start with something simple.
If you don’t have any songs in mind, I recommend “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley.
Diego Luna has a fantastic rendition of the music performed in 20th Century Fox’s The Book of Life. That’s a great movie, by the way. It’s a straightforward and short song, and you’ll be playing it in no time.
Now that you have a song, it’s time to split it into parts.
I know the idea here is to play the whole song and not just a tiny part of it, but that will be our final result. This is the starting point.
The parts of a song are the intro, the verses, the pre-chorus, the chorus, and the bridge. Some of these might be absent. That depends on the song, but you’ll have at least an intro, verses, and a chorus.
Guess what comes next…
Practice the Small Parts of the Song
Now that you have a number of more minor songs instead of one big song, it’s time to practice. Everyone says, “practice makes perfect,” and it’s said too often, so I’m not going to tell it (the first one doesn’t count).
Take each part and play it repeatedly until you can’t feel your fingers.
Then keep playing until the feeling returns to your fingers. I saw the movie Whiplash, so my teaching methods might be a little aggressive.
Another essential thing to do when practicing is not to spend too much time on any part of the song. You need to go through each section and try to spend the same amount of time on each one.
If you stick to just one part, it’ll get boring quickly, and you might give up. Switching from one part to another will keep the song fresh because you keep trying different things.
Another advantage of this is that it helps you develop your skills faster. All the different parts will have different chord combinations, requiring other skills to play appropriately.
Switching between the sections of your song will ensure you practice all these required skills and get better faster.
Put the Divided Parts Back Together
When you’ve gotten enough practice and can confidently play all those individual sections, you’ll have to put them together. Well, that should have been obvious; it’s one song.
You’ll need to do this because playing an entire song is different from playing just a small part. You’ll have to perfect your timing, the transitions between these parts, and other small intricate details in the entire song.
For the first few rounds, try to simplify the song.
Leave out any complex strumming patterns or hand movements and just play the simple chords. This will help you get a good feel and make you comfortable playing the entire song.
After this, start adding all those complex parts little by little. It’s a gradual process but a rewarding one.
When you’ve perfected it, it’s time for the final test.
Try to play along with the song and see how well you do. You’ll be surprised and impressed by the results if you’ve been practicing.
Now you can show off your guitar playing skills to your friends, as long as they get bored singing along to just that one song.
I recommend that you get at least an hour of practice every day. This way, you can keep your skills fresh and make progress while practicing instead of trying to remember what you learned in your practice session four days ago.
You know it’s true. Following these instructions will make learning easier, but you still have to work. Remember the can-do attitude? Now, go practice and make yourself (and me) proud.
Frequently Asked Questions
Attaching a time frame might be unfair as players move at different speeds and paces, but on an average of two disciplined weeks, you should have yourself up and running on playing your first song.
Scales and chords are two musical concepts that should be mastered together. There is a harmonic component, often known as chords, in all music and melodic elements, often known as chords.
Developing your ability to play scales and chords on the guitar is essential if you want to make music with it.
After you’ve learned the basics – which I’ll recommend you get a tutor for, all you need is practice, and consistency if you want to get good at playing the guitar. If you know the basics, you can learn your first song without a tutor.